Out of all the elements required to make a business successful in the long-term, there are few more important than nurturing positive relationships with your customers.
Building customer relationships can benefit your business in many ways. In this post, we’ll explore:
- Why you need to build customer relationships.
- How to build customer relationships.
- How building customer relationships can increase retention for your business.
Why Build Customer Relationships?
Of course, a core reason to build customer relationships is genuine care for people. No matter what you offer in the way or products and services, one of your main goals should be to benefit the audience you serve.
However, there are other reasons for prioritizing relationship-building and retention as well. Consider three of them.
1. Customer Retention Is Cost-Effective
In many cases, the cost of acquiring new customers is high. Many businesses dish out big bucks for ads, lead generation and sales professionals, marketing software, and so on. Those expenses add up fast.
Even when the cost of converting new customers isn’t outrageous, it’s still between five and 25 times cheaper to hang onto the customers you have. You’ve already paid to acquire them. And since they already know who you are and what you do, all you have to worry about is keeping your business top-of-mind so that they become and remain repeat customers.
2. Increased Customer Lifetime Value
Not only do they cost less to keep, but existing customers also make you more money. Stats show that increasing customer retention by just 5% can result in additional profits of anywhere between 25% and 95%. What business owner wouldn’t like that kind of profit boost, right?
3. Brand Advocates Bring in New Business
Customers with whom you’ve built a solid relationship are one of the greatest tools for bringing in new customers. After all, they’re the people most likely and the most willing to spread the word about how much they love your company. This is especially true if you deliberately encourage them to tell others about their positive experiences with you.
9 Ways to Build Customer Relationships & Boost Retention
There’s no understating how important it is to build customer relationships in business. In terms of sustainability, it could quite literally be the difference between struggling to stay afloat and running a thriving business.
If the thriving business option sounds way more desirable to you, pay close attention to the following nine tactics for strengthening customer relationships.
1. Deliver More Value Than Competitors
You could deliver the bare minimum to your customers, providing no more and no less than the basics that are expected. However, that’d only put you on par with, if not behind, your competitors in the quest to keep maintain your existing customer base.
So, to stand out, you must do more. Could you:
- Improve your product or service in some way?
- Enhance the experience people enjoy when interacting with you?
- Create more value by building a community around what you do?
- Provide a level of practical education that’s superior to what competitors are offering?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, commit to going above and beyond to cement your place in the minds and lives of your customers.
2. Highlight Shared Core Values
It’s one thing to choose and highlight core values that resonate with you. It’s another (and much smarter) to choose and highlight core values that resonate with your audience too. If you genuinely care about the same things that your customers care about, you’ll have the edge over competitors who don’t share or live up to those important values.
A good example of this is Adidas, which places a high value on excellence and playing to win. Notice how the company links its values to its customers: “Athletes will not settle for average. And neither do we. We have a clear mission: To be the best sports company in the world.”
In the same way, you can highlight a value, mindset, or ultimate goal you share with your customer base. Doing so will strengthen their emotional connection to your business, which will serve as the motivation or even the justification for them to continue doing business with you.
3. Keep in Touch With Customers
In life, relationships don’t grow when the people in them don’t communicate and stay in touch. Customer relationships are no different, especially with the many other businesses vying for your customers’ attention.
To stay top-of-mind and make sure you remain the first choice for your audience, use channels such as social media and email to stay connected.
4. Prioritize Exceptional Customer Service
We’ve all (unfortunately) been on the receiving end of terrible customer service. You can probably think of more than one support rep who had a bad attitude or who gave canned responses without listening to your actual concerns. Or a company that was totally unappreciative of your business or sloooow to respond.
Question: What effect did such negative experiences have on your relationships with the companies responsible? Not a positive one, I’m sure.
It’s no different for customers who have not-so-great customer service experiences with your business. So proactively preventing such disappointments is essential. How can you do it?
- Responding promptly to concerns and questions.
- Remaining positive, even when (and especially when) a customer isn’t happy.
- Listening attentively.
- Showing genuine appreciation and empathy.
Additionally, you can make it easy for customers to help themselves. Provide articles, videos, and other documentation to support them when you’re not available to provide one-on-one attention.
5. Proactively Seek & Apply Feedback
“Listen to your customers.” That’s nothing you haven’t heard before, right? However, that advice falls short of explaining what every business owner should actually be doing.
In reality, there are three actions you must take:
- Proactively ask for feedback and reviews from your customers, which will show that you truly care what they think. Don’t wait for them to come to you with their comments; take the initiative.
- Listen, not just with the intent to reply, but with the intent to understand before you reply. Try to see things from their perspective.
- Act on the feedback you receive as appropriate. Customers will appreciate you taking their comments seriously and working hard to create a better experience for them and their fellow customers.
6. Use CRMs to the Fullest
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools offer multi-faceted benefits when it comes to relationship-building and customer retention. Among other things, they make it easy to:
- Centralize and analyze insights on your customers, which you can use to aid in your retention efforts.
- Segment your audience so that each interaction with each customer is as relevant and effective as possible.
- Anticipate what individual customers will need or be interested in so that you can address their needs and wants promptly.
If you’re not yet using a CRM, now would be the time to change that.
7. Obsess Over Customer Experience
Unlike customer service, customer experience (CX) is an end-to-end concept. It encompasses the entire process each customer goes through when interacting with you, as well as how they feel about and react to that process in its various stages.
Of course, for the sake of retention, you want all interactions with you to be smooth sailing and for customers to be happy with or, even better, impressed by them. But to get to that end goal, and since CX is such an extensive concept, there are a lot of details you need to consider.
This is where it comes in handy to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, experience everything they experience in the course of doing business with you, and make improvements, taking care of both small details and large. They all make a difference.
Speaking of things that make a difference, personalization is one of the best tactics to invest in. Whenever possible, make use of dynamic content, tailor your messages for segmented groups of customers, make note of past interactions and purchase history, and interact with people on an individual level.
8. Promote User-Generated Content
Nurturing customer relationships shouldn’t be a one-sided activity. It shouldn’t consist of you constantly walking that awkward line between being outright annoying and trying to stay connected. It’s a process that customers should enjoy too!
One of the best ways to make sure your customers do enjoy it is to get them involved. Get them hyped up about creating and sharing content related to your business. Not only will such user-generated content (UGC) keep them engaged but it can also expand your marketing reach exponentially.
For best results, in addition to using UGC in your marketing materials, take full advantage of the power of social media. Create a memorable branded hashtag, encourage customers to share their content with their followers, and reshare it on your company’s social accounts to get the most exposure.
9. Treat Your Best Customers Well
As mentioned, brand advocates bring repeat business, more money, and new customers. So it makes sense to give your best customers the royal treatment.
You could create a loyalty program to incentivize brand advocacy, offer early access to products or services, or give exclusive access to premium perks. On top of your value-packed offerings and top-notch customer experience, these extras will give them more reasons to support your business in the long-term.
Customer Retention Demands Customer Relationships
You have nothing to lose by focusing on customer relationships and retention. In fact, you have everything to gain including savings, increased profit, and the many benefits of word-of-mouth marketing.
Why not make an intentional effort to build stronger relationships by leveling up your customer service and customer experience, encouraging user-generated content, and implementing the other methods we covered? If you do, you’ll have a much more solid shot at lasting business success!